Targeting Nitric Oxide (NO) Delivery in Vivo. Design of a Liver-Selective NO Donor Prodrug That Blocks Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha-Induced Apoptosis and Toxicity in the Liver

J Med Chem. 1997 Jun 20;40(13):1947-54. doi: 10.1021/jm9701031.


We have designed a drug that protects the liver from apoptotic cell death by organ-selective pharmacological generation of the bioregulatory agent, nitric oxide (NO). The discovery strategy involved three steps: identifying a diazeniumdiolate ion (R2N[N(O)NO]-, where R2N = pyrrolidinyl) that spontaneously decomposes to NO with a very short half-life (3 s) at physiological pH; converting this ion to a series of potential prodrug derivatives by covalent attachment of protecting groups that we postulated might be rapidly removed by enzymes prevalent in the liver; and screening the prodrug candidates in vitro and in vivo to select a lead and to confirm the desired activity. Of five cell types examined, only cultured hepatocytes metabolized O2-vinyl 1-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)diazen-1-ium-1,2-diolate (V-PYRRO/NO) to NO, triggering cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) synthesis and protecting the hepatocytes from apoptotic cell death induced by treatment with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) plus actinomycin D. In vivo, V-PYRRO/NO increased liver cGMP levels while minimally affecting systemic hemodynamics, protecting rats dosed with TNF alpha plus galactosamine from apoptosis and hepatotoxicity. The results illustrate the potential utility of diazeniumdiolates for targeting NO delivery in vivo and suggest a possible therapeutic strategy for hepatic disorders such as fulminant liver failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclic GMP / biosynthesis
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Design
  • Galactosamine / pharmacology
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nitric Oxide / administration & dosage*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Prodrugs / administration & dosage
  • Prodrugs / chemical synthesis*
  • Prodrugs / pharmacology
  • Pyrrolidines / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / toxicity


  • O(2)-vinyl-1-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)diazen-1-ium-1,2-diolate
  • Prodrugs
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Galactosamine
  • Cyclic GMP